Keeping the joy in Rockland’s coffee shop

by Joseph Coppolino - EAP
Keeping the joy in Rockland’s coffee shop
New ownership at Café Joyeux is working to keep regulars happy while becoming a hub of community opportunity. (Left to right: Nicholas Andrella, Tania Andrella, Sandra Chabot-Ries, Alexandre Lauzeriere). (Photo : Joseph Coppolino)

Running a café is no easy feat. The margins are small, the competition is fierce, staff turnover is near constant and the commodity’s price can be highly volatile as coffee crops are heavily dependent on the weather, shipping and supply challenges. But that didn’t scare away the new group of friends who have banded together to keep Café Joyeux in the hands of those who love it the most, Rockland’s own coffee lovers.

Tania Andrella and her partner, Nicholas, and friends, Alexandre Lauzeriere and Sandra Chabot-Reis, didn’t need much convincing to jump on board and take over the locally loved establishment. The group all have ties to Clarence-Rockland, having grown up, or now live and work in the city, so the nostalgia of running a café close to home was an exciting opportunity for the crew.

“It is ingrained in the community,” said Nicholas, who daylights as a business analyst with a PhD in chemistry. “That’s what really got us excited. It’s a café, so it doesn’t necessarily generate a lot of money, but we see it more as a community hub.”

“We’ve been wanting to open a business together and then we saw the ad,” said Lauzeriere, owner of a roofing and construciton company. “We are also all regular customers of the café, so that helps.”

The four of them are thankful for the successful business the previous owners Mike Shore and Adlan Zaidi left behind and are looking to expand the café’s offerings while keeping the exacting standards set by their predecessors.

“Mike and Adlan have built a really strong, loyal client base, and we want to keep them happy, so we’re not going to be changing a lot on that end of things,” said Tania, who is in wealth management and working on an MBA. “I’m personally really excited about collaborating with local artists and businesses and really focusing on that community hub aspect.”

However, change is on the horizon. Tania said renovations are in the works with new cabinets, tables and countertops arriving imminently. All sourced, of course, from regionally based businesses.

While still serving up their micro-roastery coffee, the new owners want to introduce the wider world of coffee to Rockland as well, incorporating coffee tasting experiences, including a tasting bar, so clients can better choose their brew of choice and learn the differences between the café offerings.

“We want people to taste all nine flavors we have and really appreciate them, because there’s a clear difference between light roast, medium roast, and dark roast,” said Tania.

“Adlan doesn’t put things like ‘cherry’ or ‘chocolate’ in the description for nothing. It isn’t fluff, it really tastes like that.”

They have also increased the café’s social media presence in hopes of tapping into that important online demographic. Since taking control of the social reigns, Chabot-Reis, a social media manager and entrepreneur, said she has seen a 900 per cent increase in engagement, a testament to what their team can bring to the table.

“Mike and Adlan were so focused on running the business and perfecting the coffee that they weren’t focused on social media like we are able to now,” said Chabot-Reis.

Further down the line, they hope to incorporate some late-night offerings, said Nicholas, but for now they are focused on dialing in the coffee and customer service and putting looking to connect with more local businesses.

As for the previous owners, Zaidi is staying on as coffee roaster, which should be a relief to the local java heads. Shore is proud of what he accomplished, but said he took the business as far as he could and is now looking forward to a new chapter in life. He is stepping away from the coffee industry and starting an apprenticeship as an electrician.

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